LCCMR nearing decisions regarding RFPs

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It’s year-end crunch time and the race is on to wrap things up at the LCCMR.
Last week, the committee had no less than three meetings scheduled to start the arduous process of determining which water RFPs will be accepted for recommendation to the legislature. Part of this also includes the committee’s examination of monies requested and what kind of allocations they will make in their recommendations.
Not only were there numerous RFPs submitted for consideration, but the monies requested are nearly triple what the LCCMR has budgeted for its recommendations. Talk about going on a (monetary) diet.
Bringing in a host of organizations to define the particulars of the RFPs, the return visits and presentations ranged from resource management programs for trout streams in Washington County to bioenergy planting proposals – and everything in between.
Capping the presentations to 30 minutes, the presenters had to get down to the brass tacks for the committee. Actually, reigning in the presentations in this manner helped to deliver concise, pointed presentations that got to the heart of the matter. Why hasn’t this been the protocol all along? Perhaps the committee can make a mental note of this and aim for this kind of speed as it begins to consider land conservation proposals.
What was interesting about the presentations was that it was an opportunity to get the lowdown on the particulars of RFPs submitted. Minnesota State University — Mankato, delivered a proposal that included airborne remote sensing to “map” pollution and sediment in the Blue Earth River – one of the most polluted rivers in the state. Using cutting-edge technology and partnering up with the students and staff at the school, the proposal was broad in its reach – not only would the school’s research enable them to address issues in their own backyard, but the results and technology would be provided to any interested organization or program in the state. Eventually, the technology could be implemented nationally. Sharing is good, and at the cost of a little more than $150,000 it seems like this program could not only address issues of polluted water but put the state on the forefront of using this type of technology to address our water quality issues. On top of this, the proposal integrates large student involvement, providing them with valuable education in the area of environmental issues and technology.
Rural Advantage, located in central southern Minnesota, wants to use the farm area around Madelia for its bioenergy plantings program. The plan is to convert 20 percent of tillage land in a 25-mile radius near Madelia to eradicate agricultural pollution – the leading source of contamination of the Blue Earth watershed. That’s quite a bold proposal. But what’s even more impressive is that this program would also make the area self-sustaining. Rural Advantage envisions executing this by creating bioenergy croplands that will grow a bio oil that will be used to generate heat and electricityfor the area. In addition to this, the program also provides an economic boost to the area through the creation of jobs the program would deliver. Best of all, this approach aims at the heart of sustainability advocating a  cooperative, community-based agricultural model that is a necessary step toward sustatinability.

Questions for readers:

What do you think is the most pressing water quality issue we face? Pollution? Depletion of watersheds?

What do you think is the most deserving program for funding?

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